Ramanbhai is a full time carer for his wife who suffers from depression. It took many years before she diagnosed, and she has other health issues as well.
Ramanbhai is in his early 60s and he lives with his wife Hansaben in the East Midlands. Ramanbhai’s wife suffers from mental health problems, and he has been caring for her full time for the last two years.
Ramanbhai came from India with, as he says, only 50 pence in his pocket, in the late 1960. He borrowed ¬¨¬®¬¨¬£25 to get married, and both he and his wife worked hard to make a new life for themselves. They had a baby daughter but decided not to have more children so that they would be able to give her a good life and education.
After working hard for many years, Hansaben’s health begun to suffer. She complained about pains in her head and chest. Eventually she was diagnosed with thyroid problems, a blood disorder and food allergies.
In the late 1990, however, Ramanbhai noticed that Hansaben was getting a little confused. She would take the wrong way home from the local bus stop, or forget to add ingredients when cooking. There were a lot of these incidents and this lead to tension at home. At this stage Ramanbhai didn’t know that her anger was due to her mental health problems, and sometimes their arguments became quite loud. At one occasion the neighbours had called the police.
Once they were told by the doctors that Hansaben had depression, it was easier for Ramanbhai to attribute her behaviour to this. He has learnt that the best way to handle her is to be gentle and calm. If tension arises he sometimes goes for a 5-10 minute walk to allow the situation to calm down. He says he doesn’t think many others would have persevered as he did over the years. Having done so, however, means he has now learnt to understand her and they are able to live nicely together.
About two years ago the doctors advised Ramanbhai that his wife needed 24 hour care and that he should consider retiring to look after her full time, which he did. She was very ill at that time and had even threatened to kill herself. Now Ramanbhai is with his wife all the time. He says that this is part of the commitment of marriage; were he to leave he would destroy the lives of his wife and his daughter, and for what?
Ramanbhai has not told anyone about his wife’s mental health problems. Only their daughter knows about Hansaben’s depression. He feels that people in the community wouldn’t understand and that they would look down on them and gossip about them, and he doesn’t want that to happen to his wife or to himself. He therefore makes sure she is looked after, and he makes sure he is nearby in social situations to help her out. He accompanies her to support centres, exercise classes and the Temple.
Ramanbhai doesn’t seek support from others of from services to help him care. He says he is a strong person and is able to cope. However, if the situation continues for another 3 or 4 years, he may at that stage seek some support. On the odd occasion that he goes with his son-in-law to the pub, his daughter or sister-in-law will sit with his wife for an hour or two. Apart from that he prefers to be with his wife and make sure she is happy.